Monday, January 14, 2013

The Insincerity of the Gun Argument

With Vice President Joe Biden set to deliver his recommendation on what to do about guns, it is time to call out a couple of things about the complete lack of sincerity many have when espousing their gun control talking points:

  • The "if it saves even one life" argument - What utter hogwash.  You want to save "even one life?"  Drop the speed limit to 20 MPH for every road everywhere.  You'll save tens of thousands of them.  But at the end of the day, it is not about saving lives, is it?
  • The "we need to protect our children" argument - If it were about protecting the kids, why would there not be guards at schools already?  But no.  Here we stand, nearly a month after Sandy Hook, and nothing has been done to make schools significantly more safe.  Instead, we get a lot of political platitudes, and we wait for the next massacre to occur.
  • The "high capacity magazines and assault rifle control" argument - What folly.  Exactly what kind of guns are killing a majority of the people in the US?  Handguns.  Now, the tough question: exactly who is it that is using those guns?  The bottom line is that the vast majority of our gun deaths are inner-city killings done by gangs and criminals.  New York did something about it (albeit to the detriment of the 4th Amendment, but that is a separate rant) and their murder rates have fallen appreciably.  Chicago has done nothing but pass gun legislation after gun legislation, and they have become the murder capital of the nation.  
Hunters and common citizens are not killing people in this country.  Hardened criminals are.

Let's get real here: the outcome of additional gun laws will only make it harder for law abiding citizens to take lawful action.  It will do nothing to curb the criminal element.  Gun violence will continue, and additional calls for more "control" will continue as well, and the cycle will continue.   

But that's by design.  The anti-gun argument isn't about saving lives, or the children, or controlling just one segment of firearms.  It is about disassembling the 2nd Amendment, brick by brick.  Not wanting to waste a good crisis, that is exactly what some folks intend to do.  

And they're more than happy to leave our kids exposed to ensure that it happens.


  1. While I agree with you on the vast bulk of the issue and find some of the liberal rhetoric on the issue to be appalling, your position is severely weakened by your continued linkage of the "high capacity magazines" and general gun control. This is a political loser and severely weakens the entire anti-gun control case.

    First, the government has the power to control certain types of weapons. This is demonstrated in the virtual ban of automatic weapons in this country, and that is a ban that almost everyone supports. Extending such restrictions to “assault rifles” and “large capacity magazines” on the same basis is well within the limits of the Second Amendment.

    Second, just like setting the speed limit is a trade off between “lives lost” and other factors, so is the decision to control guns. Reasonable people understand that restrictions are a balancing act between public safety and other rights. So, there needs to be balance between the legitimate rights of gun owners and public safety.

    And, that is were the pro-gun forces are the weakest. The continued support of an almost absolutist view and your argument trying to move the spotlight from “assault rifles” and “large capacity magazines” to hand guns is a very weak argument and probably counter-prodcutive in the long run.

    The reason for this is the “Why”. You and the NRA can never answer that question when confronted with a mass of dead 6 year olds. “Why does someone need to have a 40 round .223 magazine for their AR-15?” and even simpler “Why does someone need to have an AR-15?”

    Obfuscation to talk about the bigger problem of handguns and, frankly, fringe talk about protection from tyranny, just are not adequate explanations to the vast bulk of the electorate, and in the end probably makes hand guns more vulnerable to more extensive controls than anything else, i.e. went you point the finger and say that is the problem then the gun control zealots will believe you.

    Politically, the NRA should turn away from their absolutist positions and work to implement the best possible controls over firearm transactions, should concentrate on “defending” the basic rights of self-defense, hunting, and sport, support increased punishment for gun crimes, and work to find ways that legitimate collectors and sport enthusiast can have access to even restricted guns.

    The goal of the NRA and other gun nuts should be to set the gun control speed limit at 65. Instead, they are losing the political argument to a group that wants to set it at 20, and won’t realize it until they are done and beaten.

  2. House,

    Thanks as always for your post. Some points of rebuttal:

    * Assault rifles killed less people than hammers. While they look intimidating to the uninitiated, they are basically the same firearm used to hunt deer 10 years ago. Hence, what is an "assault rifle?" Definitions are required if banning is to be considered. A menacing look does not a danger make.

    * Why is the question? Well, why does someone have the NEED to pray to their God? Why does someone have the NEED to be able to say what is on their mind, regardless of how abhorrent society might find it? Why does someone have the NEED for a trial by jury of their peers? The answer - nobody has the NEED. But we have the RIGHT. Big difference.

    * The high capacity thing I might give in on, but nobody wants to define "high capacity." Why does someone need so many rounds? Look up some of the statistics of ordinance expended in many police firefights. Professionals with the highest level of training have gone through massive amounts of rounds in live fire events without hitting their target. But we ask the simple homeowner, without formal training and with far less range time, protecting their family in a darkened house to be a better marksman? Come on. 40 rounds? OK, too many. 3? NFW.

    * I disagree on your take on the NRA. They've been pummeled in the press for their ideas, but they're the only ideas that will keep schools safe, and will do it RIGHT NOW. But politicians aren't worried about keeping kids safe. They want guns, and if more of our kids need to die to bring it about, so be it. The bottom line is that when the next school massacre occurs, the NRA will at least have tried to do something about it. The media and politicians did not. Think about that.

  3. 1. Exactly. “Constitutional Rights” are not absolute. The reason rights are not absolute is that in many cases the rights of one conflict with the rights of another. So, when we consider a person “praying to their God” in our open society we understand that this has very little conflict with anyone else’s rights. But, then again, religious practice is NOT protected when it can harm someone else. In the same manner, in “nature” you have the “right” to have a machine gun, RPG, claymores, and any of the ordinance you find on Call of Duty. The problem is we do not live in “nature”, we live in society. To maintain society, we have created a government that we have voluntarily surrendered some of our natural rights to. We are lucky that we live in a free society that balances out the rights of all parties. So, while you may not get to have all of the weaponry you might wish for, you crazy right winger, you certainly have more freedoms than most and an advanced military (with all of those fun gadgets) to keep you safe.
    2. The State of New York apparently has, at least that is what is being reported. They will ban the sale of magazines with more than 7 rounds. I find that a perfectly acceptable compromise.
    3. Your police analogy is not a very good one to bring up. Frankly, police officers are so inaccurate with weapons I do not even believe all of them should be armed, much less the common citizen. The entire concept of a firearm for self defense is completely over estimated for exactly the reasons you cite. If someone invades your house and does not care that you are there, they are going to do it on their time while you are in the middle of REM sleep; they are going to do it with much more firepower than you; and, most importantly, they will not worry about background while you have to worry about shooting your teenager sneaking in the house or spraying the neighborhood with rounds that do not automatically stop just because you missed your target.

  4. 4. An assault weapon with a 40 round magazine is not an ideal self defense weapon. The more ordinance, the more likelihood you just kill something you care about. A handgun or a shot gun is a much better weapon for true self defense, although 99.99999999% of Americans really do not need this. Criminals want to break into your house when you are not there unless you are involved in something high value, and most of the time illegal. When the media, unfairly in my opinion, published the addresses of gun owners out east, it was the homes WITH weapons that were broken into first. Why? Because criminals want to steal guns which is the most valuable thing they can steal.
    5. Armed school guards and armed teachers simply are not a very good idea, and you point out one reason above. You simply will not be able to adequately train them to the point were they provide more security than danger. All of the factors I mention above in self defense are common in trying to defend the school with guns. There is the common argument that I heard about Columbine that “if there would have been just one person with a gun it would not have happened.” The problem with this argument is that there was an armed police officer on the Columbine campus during the massacre. That police officer even exchanged fire with the killers. But, that police officer could not match the firepower that the perps had; had to worry about background and possibly killing an innocent students; and, finally, wanted to preserve his own life. The reason for most of these mass killers actions is that they want to commit suicide, but their delusions and frankly, evilness, make them want to harm others on the way out. The only way, the only way, the only way to stop them is through the mental health route; identifying the people with this potential for violence and controlling their actions until they no longer pose a risk, even if that means institutionalization for the rest of their lives.
    6. Lastly, with respect to the NRA, of course they are taking a beating in the press. And, the main reason is that they are way out of line on the assault weapon “ban” and really do not have a cohesive argument to stand on in the wake of these killings. The problem for the NRA is that it isn’t a logical argument, it is a political argument. And, that is why they are making a mistake. When you are on the losing side, compromise is a valid approach.


Please feel free to include any thoughts you may have. Know, however, that kiddos might be reading this, so please keep the adult language to yourself. I know, for me to ask that language is clean is a stretch...